Kuwait may be a small country in the desert but it is a very vibrant and lively place with an even larger heart – Devesh Kumar


In a recent exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait, Devesh Kumar, an Indian insurance professional who is leaving the country at the end of his tenure here, spoke at length about the eight years that he lived and worked in Kuwait as Resident Manager of LIC-International — the foreign subsidiary of the Indian insurance megalith, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).

Arriving in Kuwait in mid-January 2015, Mr. Kumar was surprised that, contrary to his expectations of scorching heat, the temperature outside was freezingly cold. This was the first of many preconceptions about Kuwait that would change over time.

“Eight years ago, I landed in Kuwait with thousands of expectations and many more preconceptions about this country. Before arriving here, my conceptions about Kuwait were formed from talking to friends and acquaintances who had aired a lot of negative comments, on the weather, the people, the intolerance and discrimination in this country, so much so that I had begun to doubt my decision to move to Kuwait.

But having arrived here, every passing day washed away many of these prejudices and were replaced by diametrically opposite views. “On the work front, I realized early on that there was a lot of scope for expansion in the life insurance field, because most of the insurance companies operating in Kuwait were focused on general insurance. LIC International, and no other company had the variety of insurance options or product basket as LIC.

“LIC International, which is the foreign subsidiary of LIC, is registered as an insurance company in Bahrain. The company was established in 1989 to provide life insurance coverage to the Indian diaspora in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Over the years the company received the license to provide life insurance products to residents of many nationalities in a few countries, including Kuwait.

“Being a part of LIC International was a turning point in my career, because in LIC only very few people get the opportunity to work abroad. I took my posting to Kuwait as an opportunity and a challenge to prove myself, and it would not be wrong to say that during my time here, and with limited resources, the Kuwait unit was able to increase business penetration exponentially.

“Earlier, our product range was available only to the Indian community here. But in 2016 we were allowed to expand our base among other nationalities and for the first time we were able to reach and offer our products to Kuwaitis, Americans, British, Pakistanis, and Europeans among others. During my time here, I have worked with many stalwarts in the field of insurance, and I consider myself lucky that I have learned a lot from them. I do not hesitate to say that I was able to redefine several gray myths of life insurance.

“During my stay in Kuwait, I also worked on a new insurance scheme for laborers, on a no profit basis, to provide compensation insurance to the workers. I have sent it to the competent authorities for review and approval, but for some reason or other it could not be implemented so far. My hope is that someday this will be realized to the advantage of the many workers in this country.

“The challenges I faced during my tenure here were without precedent, and I had no reference to look up to in my entire career. So on many occasions I had to make decisions based on my conscience, but luckily with support and advice from senior authorities in the corporate office, I was able to overcome some of the toughest legally challenging times in my life. I thank my seniors for their support and their faith in me that allowed me to cross these turbulent periods in my life.

“As a country, I strongly believe that Kuwait is destined for great heights, and that the country will become a key financial hub in GCC and make a giant leap for positive change in the coming years. Kuwait may be a small country in the desert but it is a very vibrant and lively place with an even larger heart. Especially for many people in the Indian community, Kuwait is a home away from home, given the strong and long-standing economic, cultural and social ties between the two countries and peoples.

“Since there is a small India inside Kuwait, my life went on like it used to be in India, whether it is Holi or Diwali, and even if colors and crackers are not allowed, these festivities were enthusiastically celebrated every year with my friends and family. Overnight stays in way-out places such as Kabad, Wafra, or Khairan on New Year’s Eve, or an entire day spent there were fun-filled enjoyable events, memories of which I will always treasure. The most important thing I will miss when I leave Kuwait is the company of friends I made in Kuwait.

“From my childhood till now, I have not lived in any place for more than three years, because my father was in the army and he used to get transferred regularly. Even when I became employed with LIC, I was transferred to many places. So for me. Kuwait is the first place where I have lived continuously for eight straight years, and because of this I was able to make many good friends here. I have no hesitation in saying that the friends I have made here are extremely special to me, and the time we shared in Kuwait forms an indelible album that will remain in my heart forever.

“Be it friends from Indian Business Promotion Council, friends from media, friends from the financial world, friends of devotional path, friends of the public sector, or my friends from different Kuwait associations, all are different colorful pages of the book of my heart. I will always treasure these pages and when I flip through them over the years, it will bring tears of joy to my eyes.

“I would like to add that during my tenure here I received the support and cooperation of all my friends at work. And, at home, my wife Rakhi has been a pillar of strength supporting me in every step of life. I probably would not have been able to do all that I did in my life without her support and encouragement. Both my children Anushka and Agastya are studying. My daughter wants to go for science research and my son is completing his school in India.

During the pandemic I also utilized my time fruitfully, studying and completing as many as 12 certifications online from the prestigious Swiss Re Institute in Switzerland. As such, besides my other insurance qualifications I am also today a certified professional in ‘Anti-money laundering and combating financial terrorism-Insurance’.

“They say the two hardest things to say in life are saying ’Hello’ to someone for the first time and ‘Goodbye’ for the last time. But I tend to be philosophical about my departure from Kuwait, and to consider this parting as the beginning in the circle of life. The end is where we start from.
Thank you friends, thank you Kuwait.

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